(takes sip of water)
(clears throat again, hums a little)
(picks up absurdly large megaphone)
Until Jerry Dipoto made the moves that brought Jay Bruce and Edwin Encarnacíon to the Mariners, 2019 was shaping up to finally, FINALLY be Daniel Vogelbach’s first real shot to become what he has long been destined to become: an American League Designated Hitter. Vogelbach has more than done his time in AAA. He’s not going to get any better playing in Tacoma. The next step is actually see what he can do with consistent playing time with the Mariners. We’ve witnessed the power. We’ve witnessed the lack of ability and instinct at first base (and not for lack of trying, bless his heart). But what we’ve never seen is Vogelbach as a fixture in a starting lineup. The most consecutive starts by Vogelbach is currently eight, from 4/17/18 through 4/25/18 while Ryon Healy was out of the lineup (this honestly shocked me, but BR does not lie!). Most of Vogelbach’s other stints have been two or three games in a row, then pinch-hit appearances, then it was usually back to Tacoma.
I had high hopes that was finally going to change in 2019, but now it seems unlikely due to Bruce and Encarnacíon undoubtedly sucking up almost all the playing time at DH assuming they both stay with the team throughout the season. Anything could happen on that front at any moment, but right now Vogelbach appears as blocked as he’s ever been from actually getting the MLB playing time he not only deserves, but severely needs to prove his worth as a slugger.
I’ve written at length about how one of my favorite things about baseball is how there is a long legacy of players having success despite not having the bodies of world-class athletes. Baseball is a sport that requires hitting or throwing an object extremely hard and sometimes having a large body mass to exert force combined with extremely quick reflexes allows one to do those things in jaw-dropping fashion. Vogelbach, who has been lovingly referred to as “our Large Adult Son” ever since this tweet, fits this description and has shown his potential for moonshots in small sample sizes at the MLB level.
Maybe the Cubs believed Vogelbach would never stick as a position player, so when they had the chance to flip him for a very solid bullpen arm in Mike Montgomery, they were willing to part with a potential power hitter who would perhaps never find a real home in a lineup. Right now, it seems like they were correct.
I don’t know what it is that has caused me to want to believe in Vogelbach so much. When I say “want to believe,” it is a bit Fox Mulder-like, I admit it. I have a few doubts about him (mostly having to do with hitting left-handed pitching consistently) but dammit, I just want to see what he can do with regular playing time. The Hit It Here Cafe-clearing home run is like a folk tale to me at this point. Because of it and other moments like his late season PINCH HIT Grand Slam with a hop in Houston and the fact that he led the team in hits in 2018 Spring Training, I have this seed of belief that I cannot shake and I want so desperately to see if it can bloom.
So once more, with feeling...